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 Topic #1 - Religion

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Tiff <3


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PostSubject: Topic #1 - Religion   Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:36 pm

The first topic (since it was mentioned in the majority of the ideas):

Religion. Does it have value? What is its place in education, etc.? Is it helpful or harmful? And is there any value to religion nowadays?
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PostSubject: Re: Topic #1 - Religion   Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:34 am

Does it have value in today's society?

Personally aside from giving us a good moral code to and a "life style" to live by religion doesn't have to much of a place in this world today. For most it hinders the ability to think clearly and logically. I've heard sensible and intellegent people babble like mindless idiots at the slightest mention of religion. This is only applied when something questions there belief. Not only does it hinder intelligence discussions but it also breeds a vast amount of hatred and utter closed mindedness to other beliefs. I could sum it all up in three words: The Middle East. People will kill other people who go against their belief. This is of course extreme because people would never do that in America right? What about the bombing of abortion clinics? Lets take a step back and not talk about the killing but more the raw hatred. Look up Pastor Fred Phelps on Youtube. ( The link there is his granddaughters. Watch that and a few others. That does not belong in today's society. Unfortunately I sound like a huge Christian hater but I'm really not. Its just that what in my life I see and have experienced most. I have seen cracked out atheists mocking really nice Christians out of raw spite. Any form of religion has the potential to breed hatred and violence and therefore should be kept at a private matter. Your choice of religion is your own. Your neighbors choice of religion is their own. Thats how to keep things happy.

As far as its values and its does create a very good deep set of moral codes to live by. Unfortunately Sesame Street can instill those values too, not as deep but still effective. O and the fact that Atheist parents seem to raise fine children makes me question the need for religious morals.

In terms of separation of church and state I feel it is important to take consideration of religions in mind when making laws. This is because religion is followed by people, people are lead by the government, and the government needs to be able to respect peoples religions. The religions in this case is more the peoples ideals similar to that of say the democratic party has ideals. However I feel there is no need to base a law entirely on one religion. We must look at the nation as a whole.

My ideas on the obvious ones that everyone I know is thinking of (In God We Trust, One nation under god, etc) I feel that its unnecessary for it to be there. Mainly because it doesn't support the belief of this country as a whole. However I feel that most people need to shut up and find something more important to worry about than what the 1 dollar bills says. I am far from Christian but it really doesn't bother me.

What does bother me is the lack of respect that people have for other peoples views today. This is my biggest problem with almost everything but it comes out most in religion. It doesn't matter what anyone else believes so long as you do. But you need to extend that same courtesy to others. Granted the few whack jobs who thinks that his fish is plotting to kill him to appease the fish gods probably shouldn't be in the list of people you talk to, but a Christian, a Pagan, and a Muslim should be able to live in the same freaking house and not have ever say the words "your wrong". Respectfully disagreeing is fine. Saying your faith is wrong and "Ill wave while your burning in hell" thats wrong.

O one last thing before I go. I believe schools should stick to the history of religion or even have a philosophy of religions class but to teach one side or the other should be banned.

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PostSubject: Re: Topic #1 - Religion   Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:24 pm

I have to agree with Steven (once again as much as I hate to actually agree with him, haha Smile ) religion really does not have a place in society today. I mean, it was a big factor in the makings of the US as we know it today, but I am sick of constantly hearing people preach about their religion and how it is right and how others are wrong because they do not believe the same thing. Seriously, all religions were at one point the same thing, they just branched because of slight variation in thought. I really think that this breeds closed mindedness. One day I was talking with one of my mentees about religion and she was so closed minded and set in her religious ways, she told me that I was wrong to have a best friend who was gay and her choice was wrong to be gay. This closed mindedness is ridiculous and has no place in society today. Whatever happened to the "live and let live" idea? If this were the case, we probably would not be in the middle east right now (and if i may be so bold as to say, we may not even have ended up experiencing 9/11). I really think that it all could have been avoided if there was a little more tolerance between religions (and as americans we kept our abnormally large noses out of other people's business-i mean, its not always 'our duty' to fix everything. let them fix themselves just like you let a child put a band aid on their own cut. let them take responsibility for the turmoil thats going on in their country. we dont need to play mommy/daddy all the time-we dont have the money as a country!!!)

Religion does have its good in that it does teach values, but once again I must agree with Steven, parents can do that without religion just by being good parents and helping to guide their child with what is right and what is wrong. Religion does teach you not to steal, but parents can do the same exact thing without forcing their child to go to church every week.

As far as separation of church and state goes, I think there should be separation in that we are not reading from the bible for our geology and astronomy classes or whatever (if that were the case, we'd still think we were the center of the universe and we'd still be thinking the world was flat). But all the same, while saying the pledge of allegiance, I personally have no problem with the 'one nation under god' part. I mean, it is religious, but all the same, thats what our country was founded on. To take that out of the pledge would almost be like undermining our forefathers original pledge to the country. For the taking 'in god we trust' off of our currency, seriously? come on people. we have more important things to worry about as a country than what our dollar bill says. Instead of worrying about what it says, we should be worrying more about where its going and having it pay off the trillions of dollars in debt we are.

so, obviously im not super religious or anything, but i still do believe it plays some small part in society today, but nowhere near as much as these 'super Christian's think it has.

i hope I have not offended anyone or anything, but these are just my personal views on the matter, and I respect if people wish to differ
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PostSubject: Re: Topic #1 - Religion   Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:13 am

=final edit= I'd like to state that I wrote this while half asleep and mostly dead to the world. If I'm rambling forgive me :-) ok, bed. G'night. =final edit=

You know, Religion tends to get a bad rap in today's society, and for the most part it isn't deserved. I feel like before I start giving points in favor, I have to refute points made against because they're so prevalent.

We were discussing the value of Religion in modern society. I've read a couple of posts now which basically point out the flaws in Religion by pinpointing the atrocities committed by, if we're completely honest, a small minority of people within any given religion. The Middle East? Sure, a majority are Muslim. And the extremists kill people. Ok, sure, I grant that. You know what other groups have extremists that kill people? Well, the various Governments of the world, just for a start. How many times have you heard of racists committing violence against non-caucasians? Ever heard of a "Patriot" going too far for his country?

The tendency of human beings to commit violence when devoted to a cause is not religious in nature, it's universal. Anyone challenged about anything they hold sacred (Family, Friends, Politics, etc) has the capacity to turn cruel in order to uphold those things. It's not a Religious problem, it's a human problem.

As for the "babbling like idiots" comment, I want everyone here to take a step back and think of a time when someone claimed something about science that you knew was completely false. They just go on, and on, and on about a topic they know *nothing* about, trying to sound intelligent but totally missing their mark. Sound mildly familiar? I always like to point out that it's never anyone who *has* religious belief who's claiming it's bad for our culture; it's pretty much universally people who don't have strong ’spiritual beliefs’ of thier own. And that says a lot because, whether you like it or not, Science itself is often a matter of blind faith itself. It's simply not as rigid as doctrinal religion tends to be.

How can I say that? "SCIENCE GIVES ABSOLUTE PROOF!" I hear you cry. Well, no, actually it doesn't. DNA tests are wrong, occasionally. Carbon dating has room for debate (exposure to fire will mess with carbon dating like nobody's business, for example). Common scientific theory about the function and nature of the universe is constantly changing. We essentially assume something is true based on experimentation and experience. And lots of math. And we're almost always wrong. There are loads of instances where scientists found out they were wrong and chose to ignore it, in favor of what they wanted to believe. And while science hasn't found God yet, they haven't disproved the possibility either (no matter what your neighborhood atheist wants you to believe).

But, again, I felt the need to refute. That's not really our objective here, is it? Religion does a couple of things I believe are highly positive.

Values? Not just values, my friends. Context, framework, examples, community! These are the heart of a Christian Church. It's simple to assume that the only thing religion gives us is morality, but it's often the case that we forget about then support structure that many churches provide for the development of those morals. The Bible provides numerous examples of that generosity, the pastor and older members have the wisdom of years, living a path (ideally) of gratitude and charity. They can serve as guides and positive role models to children, ones that you honestly may never find outside of a church.

I'd also like to point out that simply because this hasn't been the case for myself or you, doesn't mean it isn't more widely true. Just to head that off at the pass. ;-)

Before moving on, I have to ask, what really *is* wrong with seeking a higher power? While the question may not bother you personally, there are many of us who truly are bothered by the greater questions of life. Who am I? Why am I? How did the initial causation of the universe come to be? Is there some higher power? When I die, will I cease to exist? And for some, science hasn't adequately answered those questions. Is it wrong not to accept on blind faith that a group with a long history of being dead wrong (scientists, in this case) knows the answers to these questions perfectly and without fail? Of course not.

Since we're on the topic, it would be a good time to drop over to Buddhism for a bit. Buddhism has, as a central practical tenant, the cultivation of Wisdom, Compassion and Loving-Kindness. It would be too long to go into in depth but, to simplify, these are active qualities within the individual, not passive moral structures that can be instilled by listening to parents. Buddhist meditations (Vipissana, Sati, Smamatha, Samadhi, etc) develop active insight into the nature of both the human mind and the reasons for unhappiness. Science has been steadily linking these techniques to enormous health benefits, increased right-brain activity, high subjective reporting of peace, happiness, contentment and clarity and other such experiences.

The active practice of Buddhist tenants (a religion's precepts and practices) as it were, causes these things, and other religious practices are similar. I'd say those are pretty good things. Combined with the charity work of various religious organizations, the "fear factor" that (like it or not) keeps some people in check, a contextual framework into which experiences that do not fit the realm of science can be placed (or maybe I'm the only person here who's had thing happen he can't explain), I'd say religion does more good than harm and has a positive place in society.

It's very easy to get caught up on Christianity and Islam; it's important to remember there are others out there and they're radically different. It's very easy to dwell on hatred and violence; it's important to remember that bad things receive the most press time, even though they're generally the least common things. It's very easy to think that what you gained from Religion is all that it has to offer; it's important to remember that what is important to you about life is not important to others and the reverse is also true.

Another benefit, specifically from my experience as a Pagan, is that your religion provides you your transitory rites. Youth often look for ways of gauging where they are in their development. "When will I be a man/woman?" "What makes me an equal to my parents/teachers/friends?" And left on our own, our culture has largely turned to solutions derived from one of three things: Sex, Drugs or Violence.

I'm probably the only person here who has a problem with drugs being a mainstream part of what it means for kids to "grow up," but in my personal opinion is an incredibly shitty indicator that you have control in your life, that you're responsible to make your own decisions and f*ck the rest of 'em. Sex? Why is losing one's virginity such an important thing for young men? Because honestly, I like sex, but it's not nearly as important as I thought it was at 17. Society and peers mostly reinforce our conception of what it means to be mature, cool, responsible, capable, etc. And it does so poorly.

Pagan religions largely have a concept of creating transitional rites, Rites of Passage. And they do so better than I've ever seen society do. They generally do so imparting a sense of self-reliance and responsibility while leaving the person with the maturity and rationality to know that the choices they make about their body, their lives, are theirs to make decisions about with *respect*. And don't let the simplicity of some of those rites fool you, they're usually very important to the person undergoing them.

To get an idea of what I mean, try these two posts from a blog I'm aware of:

To the subject of education, I must respectfully state that I believe children should be raised in as secular environment as possible until they're old enough to consider the precepts of a religion on a mature basis. I don't believe Religion deserves more than an overview in High School. I'm even fine with the Bible, Koran and the like being discussed as literature. But that's as far as my opinion goes on that subject.

Last edited by Zeta on Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:12 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Topic #1 - Religion   Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:22 pm

Haha, Zeta, I was thinking the same thing, about the “One Nation Under God” when I was talking to Steven earlier. XD To send a message to the Communists. Pretty much using religion as a tool of propaganda…which is still happening today with the Middle-East. Yayyy.

I agree with everyone so far.

In the beginning, religion was created as a way of explaining the unexplainable (“Oh, great shining ball in the sky, you give me warmth and grow my plants; I’ll worship you”). Religion was a way of keeping social order – a religious conscience will keep you in line so you follow your morals, have integrity, and keep yourself in check so your government doesn’t have to babysit you every moment of your life. Thinking about someone out there watching you 24/7 and threatening your future in the afterlife will keep you in line…or, so it was intended to.

However, in today’s society, science is doing that, and has a lot of proof. It also revises theories when they’re proven inaccurate. Religions, many of which were created thousands of years ago, cannot change. In our ever-changing society, there has to be change, and revisions, to the codes and guidelines in order for it to work (like new amendments to the Constitution). People have access to more information now. Sexuality, sex, and crimes are not kept a secret as much anymore. Right and wrong are not based on religion so much as social norms.

I have a lot of respect for people who are devoted to their religion: they take the time and effort to cleanse their spiritual health when I don’t.

I agree with Steven in the fact that schools should teach philosophies of religion. Even though it doesn’t comply with the “public school education,” it would promote tolerance and broaden horizons for children who would otherwise have a narrow-minded view on things. A huge percentage of the world has a religion. To promote understanding and good relations with other countries, especially involving diplomacy, religious tolerance must be taught and understood.

My sister, who is getting confirmed, is in a new religious education system that I wasn’t taught years back. They’re now teaching her that homosexuality is not good, and neither is contraception. We were just taught stuff in the Bible. Taking a completely practical approach, I think teaching teenagers to go against social norms (especially since our teen pregnancy rates are skyrocketing) is not the best plan. And the fact that there are many gays and lesbians who are “coming out of the closet” and need the same rights as heterosexual people doesn’t help this view that is trying to be shoved down my sister’s throat. I won’t go as far as to say it’s wrong, but it’s impractical. It may have worked “back in the day,” but in modern times, it can’t be done; not when there are so many people to account for.

The fact that there is no religious toleration is a huge problem, however, it’s not a new problem. There has always been prejudice against other religions: think when Christianity started to spread in a world of paganism which equaled martyrs, the Crusades, and when the Irish Catholics started to flood into the United States in the mid-1800s in a land mostly inhabited by evangelical Christians. People have always been persecuted for their faith, as crude as that sounds to us today. Heck, our Founding Fathers questioned the same thing, since most of them were actually not Christian (Thomas Jefferson, according to my history professor, is going to be taken out of history textbooks for schools in Texas and the Southern area because he had the view of separating church from state…). It would be too much to say that we should educate people to be more tolerant. We should, it’s true, but we can’t expect too much of a result. People will remain firm in their beliefs, especially uneducated people. It has been proven in at least one study that people who have formal education tend to not have strong religious beliefs (or, they don’t go to church very much, if at all); those who are very religious tend to not have had much formal education and tend to have more children. I’m not sure if that study was just based on Christianity or religions in general, but I have the book that has the study and can look it up if anyone needs to know.

Religion, in general, poses a problem for societies today, however, the religions themselves don’t pose the problem. The culture that has been formed from the religions cause the problems. Anything in extremes is bad, and religion can fit into that category. When it gets to the point of thinking bad things about another person because of their beliefs, you’re heading in the extreme direction. Sure, be critical about their religion, maybe even think, “I wonder why they believe it?” But don’t have the gumption to say, “You’re wrong.” Because, you never know. It may be true. There’s nothing saying it’s not true, yet there’s no definite affirmation that it is true. If anything, be a decent human being about it. No one has the right to go up to someone and tell them that their religious belief is untrue.

Now, let’s see what everyone else says. XD
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PostSubject: Re: Topic #1 - Religion   Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:13 am

I just want to comment very briefly on this entire issue, with a few points of my own.

I am religious; yet I find religion frustrating. This is because I have so many doubts within my own beliefs. I feel that these doubts are what steer many to proclaim themselves "atheist, " believers in nothing, and subscribers of no religion. However I would think that even those individuals must have serious doubts about whether such a magnificently complex nature and human existence, as we have on earth, could have truly arisen from mere fundamental laws, and coincidence of science.

I believe that when ever we proclaim beliefs vehemently, possibly violently, (as is apt to happen in religious matters, esp. among those most radical) it is a direct manifestations of these doubts.

I think if more people were willing to readdress their beliefs, to see how fervently they are willing to accept them as true, the more readily these issues would be resolved. I feel like ideals of true universality and unquestionable righteousness are usually handled in respectable ways, (i.e civil rights, with stand-ins).

It is when we doubt the very things we are willing "to kill for" that we can see the inconsistency in our own logic. A true belief doesn't need to be shouted to catch on, it only needs to be whispered. If you find yourself ever screaming how "right" something is, you may want to re-assess it with yourself.
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PostSubject: Re: Topic #1 - Religion   Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:26 am

I would actually like to disagree with you, Zeta. Although science does have a lot of flaws, people work on them to correct the flaws. That was the point that I was trying to make: religion is always the same and rarely changes, while science, though not a religion, is always modifying and improving to make things better.

I definitely agree that religion gives community. It creates tight-knit groups that provide protection and spiritual advisement. However, religions aren't the only ones that do this. Clubs and organizations provide community.

You mentioned that the right time to introduce religion into a child's life isn't until they're an adult. Do you mean only having religious teachings in schools, or do you mean refraining from teaching a child religion at all inside and out of school until they're mature enough to handle it? If you mean in schools in general, I could probably agree with that. WIth not teaching them religion at all until they're old enough to handle it may be the best-case scenario, however, that would undermine your point of having community and religion reinforcing values that parents cannot reinforce by themselves. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I strongly agree with your comment that violence is not just a religious problem. When I think of violence and prejudice, my mind automatically goes to religion, but I know that that's definitely not always the case. Any differences between people can result in violence, especially when the subject is new, frightening, or goes against what that person has been taught.

And I definitely agree with you, Scott. That's why religion is so hard (for me, personally), to catch on to.Everything is a ritual and, as Steven has pointed out to me, largely based off of pagan practices (when the Christians were trying to convert the pagans, they used their dates, names, and altered their rituals to help "ease" them into the religion, like the dates for Christmas and Easter). I have always believed that evolution was the way that humans came into existence, and that many of the stories from the Bible weren't true. Does believing in evolution make you a bad Catholic (or Christian in general)? I know a girl who does not believe in evolution, and everyone makes fun of her behind her back. I'm sure she's been given the evidence many times and has been taught it before in school, but why does she not believe it? It's religion against science. Evidence versus a religious doctrine that she has always believed. Which one is right? Her belief or something that society has tried cramming into her head? No one can accurately judge.
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